Page last updated at 06:31 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Children's champion faces up to change

By Nick Lawrence
BBC Inside Out, Birmingham

Colin Tucker is the antithesis of how you would expect a senior council executive to react to news parents with learning disabilities are "automatically" having their children taken off them.

A BBC Inside Out West Midlands investigation found that nationally, six out of 10 parents with learning disabilities had their children taken off them, sometimes based on out-of-date assessments.

Colin Tucker

"That isn't fair, that isn't proper and that isn't right," said Mr Tucker, who is charged with changing Birmingham Children's Services.

He went on to talk freely about the shortcomings of the children's services department which was described as "not fit for purpose" in a recent Ofsted report.

He admitted there had been huge mistakes in management and training, which led to the service being in special measures for the second time since 2002.

Since he came into the job in July he has been battling to change an organisation which he said was 25 years behind the times.

How can you give children a chance to succeed if you have 15 young offenders all under the same roof?
Colin Tucker
Director of Children's Services

"Things have to change," he said.

Despite having one of the toughest jobs in the UK, he said he was not going to let the media circus surrounding Birmingham City Council's Children's Service phase him.

"I go home to a fantastic family and close the door," he said.

But he has already brought some dramatic changes to the department.

He shut down two children's homes and said there are more changes on the horizon.

"How can you give children a chance to succeed if you have 15 young offenders all under the same roof?"

The latest BBC investigation into child removals from people with learning disabilities in Birmingham will present more challenges to Mr Tucker, but he promises to face up to the problem.

He said: "I will talk with parents with learning disabilities, not to patronise them, or make excuses…. but to genuinely listen to their stories and see how I can respond to that."



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